MLK Day Reflections

For Martin Luther King Day the VISTAS in my area volunteered at a mental health home for veterans. We spent the majority of the time painting, but we also spent around 25 minutes landscaping (25 minutes exactly so that we did not get frost bite in the 6 degree weather). There were both positives and negatives to the experience.

Positive:

  • I built relationships with other VISTAs
    • A VISTA questioned how the organization I volunteer with will achieve its ultimate goal of scholars coming back to the city to be local leaders. “What would be their incentive for coming back?”
      • She suggested offering scholars a scholarship that requires them to work in the city for an allotted time after receiving their degree.
    • A VISTA offered to give me ride to the bus station (again, it was 6 degrees outside).
  • The organization that organized this opportunity provided jobs to a group of people who historically have had a hard time finding them (people of color, veterans, young men of color, people who have dreadlocks and tattoos).

Negative:

  • There was a disconnection between me as a volunteer and the community my work as a volunteer was supposed to benefit.
    • Other than a hello and a smile, I barely interacted with anyone in the home. I was an outsider.
    • Money was stolen from me while I was at the site.

I did not feel like the service I performed today was not the type of service Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fully envisioned. It was a step in the right direction, but I could have done more to serve with the intent of empowering a community. After all, a VISTA’s role is capacity building

=-| Domonique

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